Osprey and Sustainability


Recent trade show visits and manufacturer press releases have made it very clear how much emphasis responsible outdoor brands are now putting on sustainability.  This is great news – for a long time there has maybe been quite a contradiction in us all going out to enjoy the natural environment, but dressed in synthetic fabrics coated in potentially damaging chemicals. 

With this in mind we wanted to highlight how some of our favourite brands are addressing this issue.  At the recent Outdoors Show it was great to catch up with industry leading pack manufacturer Osprey to find out what they have been up to. This is the first of an occasional series, so please watch out for others in the near future.

A sustainable brand since 1974….

Of course, despite any damaging effects of production, one of the best ways to be a sustainable company has always been to produce high quality products that last a long time.  So, in that sense, Osprey have been doing this since the production of their very first backpacking pack in 1974. 

They have also always backed this up with their All Mighty Guarantee, which allows users to send damaged products back for repair – and a whopping 94% of returned products are repaired. Their Second Life programme is also all about refurbishing old packs for reuse.  In 2018 alone, over 2000 packs were added to the programme and over 300 were donated to outdoor youth charities. 

Osprey are also big on Corporate Social Responsibility.  As a company we’ve been on the receiving end of some great support for our Pick & Play events and we certainly aren’t the only ones – they have funded and contributed to wide ranging programmes world wide.  

A new phase….

But, beyond that, they are committing to some very significant developments in the coming years.  Osprey are seeking to, as they describe, ‘become the most progressive, transparent and sustainable outdoor hardwoods brand worldwide.’  This is a big target and yet, as the world’s biggest rucksack and travel luggage manufacturer, they are also in a very influential position. Where they lead others will surely follow.  Spring 2020 is the next phase of their journey. 

Materials and chemistry….

We can’t avoid, as we venture into the mountains, that a lot of chemistry is involved in the kit we carry.  The manufacturing materials and coatings are all affected by this.  Yet, it is also a trade off.  Sustainable products need to last well and yet they also need to perform.  For a long time the best performing coatings have contained harmful PFC’s, but the development of new and yet less damaging coatings means that Osprey how now made a pledge to become PFC free by 2022.

This also means that there is more scope than ever to use recycled materials that still perform at (or above) the standard of previous materials.  Again, Osprey see Spring 2020 as the launching point for their move towards premium recycled materials and they are releasing a range of flagship packs for this initiative (more details below).

An ethical supply chain….

Osprey’s CSR underpins all they do, and yet they are keen to take existing initiatives even further.  They have recently undated their factory code of conduct to ensure it follows the standards set by the Ethical Trading Initiative.  This means that, with regular factory audits and manufacturer support, they can comply fully with the Worldwide Ethical Alliance.  Everybody benefits.  

New Products for 2020….

At the Outdoor Show the big news, as well as all the info above, was all about the new flagship models that will herald in these new initiatives.  The new Archeon packs (the 25 litre version is shown above) are, as well as looking like a great option for many users, a beacon of what’s to come.  

There are a range of capacities (25 to 70 litres in Men’s and 25 to 65 litres in women’s) and various sizes and colours, but all the packs follow the same key principles.  They are constructed from recycled materials and are entirely PFC free – but they still offer rugged construction and top level performance.

Bravo Osprey….

We need the big industry leaders to set the standards and, by doing this, they influence us as users, the material manufacturers and the other rucksack manufacturers. I applaud Osprey taking a lead and can’t wait to see where the journey takes them in the coming years.  Well done Osprey.

Posted by Paul